Starring: Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer(s): Nancy Meyers
Cinematography: John Toll
Original Score: Heitor Pereira, Hans Zimmer
Running Time: 118 Mins.
I think it is safe to say Nancy Meyers has cornered the “sophisticated” yet “gentle” comedy for adults market, those that will find Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep smoking pot amusing, or Steve Martin drunken dancing with a girl half his age are going to love It’s Complicated, it really is far from complicated, it’s quite simple really!
Take a divorced couple, Jane (Streep) and Jake (Baldwin), and set film 10 years on from divorce with Jane now dating architect Adam (Martin) and Jake now unhappily married to a girl half his age, Jake is being brow-beaten into attending a fertility clinic while being harassed by his wifes other terrible tot! Meeting up for their son’s graduation, low and behold, they embark upon an affair. It’s a premise rife for the kind of comedy/drama Meyers films have become the byword for, as anyone who has sat through What Women Want (funny), Something’s Gotta Give (funny and touching) and The Holiday (awfully crass) will know, the people who populate these films are living such perfect lives, with high-flying jobs and living in perfect houses where it only rains if someone is sad. Simply put it is Richard Curtis land, for the more mature woman (or man).
To knock It’s Complicated for inhabiting this same world is like complaining its lit dimly and there’s a lot of allegory for death in a David Fincher film, there is no pretence, simply put what you see is what you get. However where all this fell flat in Meyers last film, The Holiday, ladelling on the syrup a little too thickly, she is on better ground this time, and it would be fair to say this is almost a companion piece to Something’s Gotta Give, were Jack Nicholson a few years younger I’d wager it would be he, not Alec Baldwin, wooing Meryl Streep.
In Mamma Mia! comedy mode Streep is, as ever, hugely watchable exuding the warmth that is a must in this kind of frothy comedy, Baldwin seems to be revelling in his rejuvenated fame since 30 Rock made him an A-Lister again and here is not averse to ripping into himself quite liberally all in the name of comedy, however those hoping for vintage Steve Martin may be disappointed, though he has second billing he is very much a support part, refraining from being goofy he is on toned dow mr. nice guy territory here leaving the pratfalls and physical comedy (bar the dancing!) to Baldwin.
As with all films of this sort there is a solid support cast, with each playing their part well despite many having very little to do, aside from Martin it is John Krasinski who is the standout, as ever his comedy is seemingly effortless and I could quite happily have watched a whole film focused on his character, in fact the look on his face in one of the film’s key scenes is priceless, you cannot buy comedy timing as good as his, something which makes up for the rather flimsy turns by the three children.
Thankfully behind the chocolate box façade and light, but amusing, comedy is some heart and It’s Complicated does have something to say, about relationships, love and life, thankfully handled deftly by Myers nothing ever feels hammered home and for those who have ever been involved in or child to divorce will recognise the feelings and emotions the characters go through, not in a heavy of depressing way at all, more urging to look on the bright side of life, as if you were to expect anything different. Thankfully upon the film’s dénouement it avoids falling into the clichéd expected ending and the laughs flow throughout rather than fizzing out in favour of drama at the end, a failing of most rom-coms.
Nancy Meyers is queen when it comes to gentile rom-com’s, and after the abysmal The Holiday she is on safer ground with It’s Complicated. Baldwin makes it fly with his shameless performance channeling a young Nicholson but it is the feeling beneath the fluffy comedy that really makes It’s Complicated better than many of its peers.